Friday, June 17, 2011

Review of Rob Bell's 'Love Wins' Part 5

Chapter 4:  Does God Get What He Wants?

My answer to that question is the same as Bell's which is yes.  The problem is, his god desires mankind as his highest end, and the Scriptures have God's glory being his highest end.  Two different starting points and two different ending points.
He opens the chapter by saying that you can check out what a church believes by going to their website.   On three such visits for him, he found the following statements:
"The unsaved will be separated forever from God in hell"
"Those who don't believe in Jesus will be sent to eternal punishment in hell"
"The unsaved dead will be committed to an eternal conscious punishment." --pg. 95-96
Quickly after making these observations he makes this statement:
"Yet on these very same websites extensive affirmations of the goodness and greatness of God, proclamations and statements of belief about a God who is 'mighty,' 'powerful,' loving,'  'unchanging,' 'sovereign,' 'full of grace and mercy,' and 'all-knowing.' pg. 96-97
That word 'Yet' there tells it all, and so does the rest of this chapter.  First of all the Scripture, which Bell denies, affirms all of those statements. 2 Thessalonians 1:6-9 says
For after all it is only just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.  These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power.
and Revelation 20:10,15
And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever...and if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
These scriptures clearly and unequivocally shut the mouth of the "christian" skeptic.  Now Bell tries do do Scriptural acrobatics to get around these, but they fail.
Secondly what Bell is doing here is creating a false dilemma.  "Do people go to hell or does God get what he wants?"  "Do people go to hell or is God good?"   God's word seems to have no problem answering that question. The problem is Bell thinks this God is a monster, which should tell all of Christendom that this guy is clearly outside of the "stream" of orthodoxy.
Thirdly, Bell here is clearly claiming universalism again.  He doesn't use the word, but the idea is there.
"Will all people be saved or will God not get what he wants" pg. 98
Again false dilemma.  He quotes 1 Tim 1:2
"God wants all people to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth."
He rips it out of context.  Verse one speaks of praying for kings and those in authority (as well as the common man), "all men" or better yet "all types of men." So verse two: "God wants all people (all types of people-not just the poor but kings and politicians alike) to be saved.  The reason why I can say that is the proper translation is because of the rest of Scripture.  All of Scripture must be consistent with itself otherwise it has error and God is a liar--2 Timothy 3:16.  Romans 9:19 says
"...who resists his will?"
It's rhetorical.  No one can.  If God ultimately wills something to happen.  It will happen.  Every time, all the time.
Even if you don't accept my interpretation which has been the historical interpretation, think about this:  Why aren't all people saved if God wills it, and He is God?
Answer: He must have other desires higher than this one, which is really what this whole book is trying to suppress.
God's highest desire is the glorification of Himself.
Everything else is subservient to that.
That is Christianity.
Bell deduces that God's highest desire is man
The Bible declares that God's highest desire is the glorification of Himself.  Romans 11:36 says
For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things.  To Him be the glory forever. Amen.
Bell's basic premise is that God is man-centered.  This would be idolatry on God's part because He would be putting something over and above Himself which he prohibits in His Word.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Review of Rob Bell's 'Love Wins' Part 4

Chapter 4  Hell
This subject is so important because it is one of the most powerful witnesses that communicates something about the holiness of God.  God did not crucify and mutilate His one and only blessed Son,  and He did not create the Lake of Fire in order to convey the insignificance of His great glory.
Hell is meant for those (like you and me) who from birth have rebelled against the one true infinitely loving God.  Hell is meant for those (like you and me) who despise His righteousness.  Hell is meant for those (like you and me) who HATE God.
That is all of us from birth.  If you think I'm exaggerating, then let Paul speak from Romans 1:28-30
"And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God..." etc.
What does that prove you ask?  That is just applied to those other people, not to me.  Paul quickly follows up in Romans 2:1
"Therefore you have no excuse, everyone of you who passes judgment, for in that which you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things."
We who judge practice the same things.  What things?  Everything that proceeds this verse.  We are all haters and despisers of the most glorious God from birth.   He sends those people to hell.  People like you and me.  The fact that he saves anybody from that future says something great about Himself.  The fact that He created it for those who He would not save says something great about Himself, namely, that He is a righteous judge and He will demonstrate His justice to those He is showing mercy to (cf. Romans 9:23).
So how does this relate to Rob Bell's chapter on hell?
If hell is undermined and shown to be fallacious, not only must you throw out the inerrancy of Scripture, but one of the witnesses that demonstrates God's holiness is destroyed.  Bell in this chapter erodes all urgency for anybody to repent of their treason against King Jesus and put their trust in Him alone for salvation.
He paints a caricature of belief in the right things:
"Many people in our world have only ever heard hell talked about as the place reserved for those who are "out," who don't believe, who haven't 'joined the church.'  Christians talking about people who aren't Christians going to hell when they die because they aren't...Christians.  People who don't believe the right things" pg. 82
That is a straw man.  People go to hell because they hate God and His son Jesus Christ.  John 15:24 says
"If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would not have sin; but now they have both seen and hated Me and My Father as well."
People do not go to hell because they do not believe the right things.  Believing the right things will not prevent you from going to Hell (cf. James 2:19), only being born again will (cf. John 3:3)

Furthermore Bell tortures Luke 16, which tells us the story of the rich man and Lazarus by interpreting the chasm to be the rich man's heart-pg. 75
He re-introduces an old already defeated view on hell as the town trash heap outside of Jerusalem.
Still worse he tells us that we are the gospel:
"Jesus teaches us again and again that the gospel is about a death that leads to life.  It's a pattern, a truth, a reality that comes from losing your life and then finding it." pg. 76
That statement needs to be read a couple times.  The a pattern...that comes from you.
You are the gospel according to Rob Bell.
Not Jesus living a perfect life, to give you the righteousness you need to please the Father.
Not Jesus paying the penalty for wicked God-hating sinners.
Not Jesus rising from the dead defeating death for His bride.
You are the gospel.
You are the gospel if you believe Bell's version of it.
Friends, if you and I are the gospel, then the gospel is not good news.  It's the worst news possible.  Why did Christ need to suffer if the chasm from heaven to hell is our own heart?  The truth is that the chasm is and could only have been bridged by an infinite being.
The Lord Jesus Christ.
Not us.
This is what Bell is seeking to undermine.  Consciously or not, it matters little.  This theology that he is propagating is hostile and antithetical to the Scriptures and it's hostile and despising of the person and finished work of Jesus Christ.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

What Does God Think About Most?

I don't think this is one of those questions that most people would sit around and burn up their brain cells on.  However it is a question that if paid attention to will not only give us tremendous insight on how to live our lives, but will be the very source of all our joy.  It's a similar question to "Why do you think God created you?"  Some reading this might think those are easy questions, but reader beware!  A careless answer might get you wandering away from orthodoxy.

These inquiries are so massive, because the way that we answer them reveal what we believe about ourselves, the world, and most importantly God.  I can't tell you how many people would answer the later question by saying "...because He loves us."  Now that is true, in fact in Psalm 139 it says that God's thoughts towards us are uncountable, more than the sand on the sea shore.   But is that the ultimate answer, or is there something more ultimate?  What is the chief reason that God made us?   We must go to the beginning for that answer.  Gen. 1:26 tells us that God made us in His image.  But I think that is lost on many who don't think to delve further, so another question is helpful here:  "Why do you look in the mirror?"  The answer, at least on some level, must be because you like to look at yourself.  Now when I put it like that, it sounds kind of wrong.  But that is exactly why God created us.  He likes to look at Himself!

Jonathan Edwards puts it like this:
"...if God has respect to things according to their nature and proportions, he must necessarily have the greatest respect to himself.  It would be against the perfection of his nature, his wisdom, holiness, and perfect rectitude, whereby he is disposed to do everything that is fit to be done to suppose otherwise." (John Piper's God's Passion for His Glory including the text of Jonathan Edward's The End for Which God Created the World pg. 140)

Now that is a mouthful, but to sum up what Edwards is saying would be to say that since the very nature of God is holy, he must therefore delight in holy things.  Furthermore he must delight in the most holy thing.  To esteem something that is less holy over and above something that is infinitely holy would in fact be unholy.  So God greatest affections are directed towards the most holy thing in all the universe by the very definition of Him being God.  Edwards concludes by saying "...the affection of God CHIEFLY consists in a regard to HIMSELF, infinitely above his regard to all other beings; in other words, his holiness consists in this." (ibid pg. 141)

So God's highest regard or affection or respect is directed towards himself.  In other words, God thinks about Himself most!  John Piper is extremely helpful here:

"This should be read and understood in the context of God's infinite moral rectitude or righteousness or holiness that inclines him to delight in what is most beautiful and worthy, namely, himself.  To many this sounds "selfish" or "egocentric" or "narcissistic" in a pejorative sense, because such a self-assessment and self-worship in us creatures would, in fact, be evil.  But that is only because we are not worthy of such a  self-assessment and self-worship.  God is.  In fact, he would be unrighteous if he failed to delight fully in what is most beautiful and worthy, namely, himself."  (ibid pg. 152)

So because God is only righteous all the time, he thinks about what is most righteous all the time, namely Himself.  Not only that, but He is His own motive for everything that He does in EVERY situation.  No exceptions. Ever.

Isaiah 48:9-11 says

"For the sake of My name I delay My wrath, and for My praise I restrain it for you, in order not to cut you off.  Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.  For My own sake, for My sake, I will act;  for how can My name be profaned?  And My glory I will not give to another."

(next time I'll talk about why this is the best news for us)